Greenville youth choir makes lasting ‘viral’ mark


GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – In times like these, there is no shortage of stories about hardship and frustration. But a group of individuals took a bad situation and made something beautiful and lasting for all to enjoy. And what makes it even more inspiring is they are children from the Upstate.

In the middle of their first season ever, the brand new Greenville Youth Choral, like so many other groups, learned in-person meet ups were no longer possible.

“I really missed it because I wanted to perform and so I was really sad. We had some really cool songs,” 13-year-old Georgia Finn said.

They had already built quite a following, one that Executive Director Steven Brundage never dreamed would jump exponentially after the shutdown.

“We wanted to remain committed to our mission of strengthening our city and providing choral experience and a place of belonging for our kids so when we cancelled our rehearsals and our concert virtual choirs was the easy answer for us,” Brundage said.

In just two days, the choral had 15,000 views.

“My jaw dropped, my eyes were super big. I was so surprised that I had a solo. I like replayed it. I was so happy,” 11-year-old Amelia Carl said.

The 75 kids made it look easy, but in reality everything from technology to siblings threatened the massive project.

“So we did have to retake several times because of something that they did, like running through the halls, ‘Mom, I need you,’ stuff like that,” Finn said.

But that didn’t stop them from round two. In fact they took it to a new level.

Enter Broadway National Tour star Patrick Dunn, who shared more than just the love of music in common with these kids. His last in-person performance as Jean Valjean in “Les MisΓ©rables” was in, you guessed it, Greenville.

Dunn, a friend of Brundage, teamed up with not just the choral, but the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.

“One of the silver linings of this experience for us has been that, yeah, we reached, I think through these videos about 50,000 people around the country, so it really spread the word of singing and belonging and choir, and even support advocacy for the arts in a way that had we just kept going with our regular season we wouldn’t have,” Brundage said.

“It shows that even if there’s a pandemic there’s always some way to enjoy making music together,” 12-year-old Kellis Cofer said.

Brundage is hopeful that the choir can resume in person practice this fall, but is waiting on the results of a study by the American Choral Directors Association on how to do that safely.

The choir remains open to any child who auditions. No one is turned away.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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